Amsterdam is often stereotyped in a sinful cliché of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Family members always ask me, “So, you’re living in Amsterdam? How’s the pot (chuckle, chuckle)!?”
Hardy, har, har. While the city undoubtedly has a “party” vibe around town, things have changed since the 1970s and ’80s. And most locals lead an ordinary life that’s healthy and genuinely sober. Sure, we have our weekend nights out, but the bottom line is that it’s fun to party in Amsterdam free of vice indulgence.
There is a quality of living in Amsterdam that is rich, affordable and full of good eating and natural exercise. Here are some easy ways that you can still sample some of Amsterdam’s most colorful attractions, while staying healthy.
Little known fact: Coffeeshops in Amsterdam actually serve coffee too. Photo: Timo
Believe it, you don’t have to be a pothead to enter coffeeshops. You don’t have to buy weed inside, and you don’t have to smoke it. They’re called coffeeshops because there’s an actual coffee bar inside, with lattes, cappuccinos, teas, etc. It’s not uncommon to see regulars inside just for the cozy atmosphere, a good book and a cup of joe. (They’re just hidden behind that cloud of smoke. But they’re there!)
Unlike other Red Light Districts in Europe, the women working in prostitution here are not on the streets. They won’t drag you into their sex bed, and they won’t follow you around. The Red Light District is an attraction that lures the majority of tourists in for a stroll at least once. Window shopping is the main activity, going in to “purchase” is another story.
Bars in Amsterdam serve plenty of non-alcoholic beverages, too. Photo: seven pillars
Alcohol-free beers in Amsterdam include Bavaria 0.0% and Amstel (“alkoholfrei”). Rarely will they be on tap, but almost every bar and café will have them available in a chilled bottle. (The city has yet to see alcohol-free wine, but everywhere serves soft drinks and sparkling water in cute European-style bottles.)
Related: 5 affordable and fun bars in Amsterdam
Don’t even ask a café if they serve decaf, because even if they do, chances are it’s expired. However, the few Starbucks around town (at Leidseplein, Rembrandtplein, Central Station and near Dam Square) and the local chain Coffee Company will be stocked with caffeine-free espresso and coffee. Alternatively, try the fresh mint tea as a refreshing and very Dutch alternative.
It’s easy to stay healthy in Amsterdam (with or without dogs). Photo: Michiel S.
Overall, it’s easy and cheap to have a healthy stay in Amsterdam. A weekly bike rental can average out to €5 a day, and the city is extremely walkable. The city’s outdoor markets and Turkish food stores have piles of fresh produce that’s naturally organic, and smoking cigarettes inside has been banned since 2008.
Related: 10 tips to bike like a local in Amsterdam
Enjoy you’re time in Amsterdam. And one last tip: If you are going to partake in other “colorful” activities that the city has to offer, remember that moderation is key. Not only will you stay healthier, but you’ll actually leave town with memories of your time in Amsterdam.
What suggestions do you have for staying healthy while visiting (and enjoying) Amsterdam? Share with us in the comments section below.